This holiday season is seems almost down right impossible to find a reason for cheer. As the news is splashed with mass shootings, terrorism, lives lost, loved ones mourned, and fallen service members. These type of matters are always heart breaking, but during the holiday season it seems to take on a whole new blow. As I watch families, significant others, husbands, wives, children, friends, the list goes on, mourn the loss of someone they loved dearly, I find myself thinking “not only did the person(s) who committed this act of evil take away an irreplaceable piece of this persons lives but they forever ruined the holiday season for these people, a season that is suppose to be all about cheer, joy, love, kindness, giving… has been made to be the drastic opposite and it will forever be tainted”.
After a conversation on the phone with my mom about this yesterday as I told her how I cried throughout my 45 min. commute to work as I watched about 7 different cop car processions silently make their way South on the 1-25 with their lights flashing in honor of their fallen service member towards his funeral.
In light of a current advent study I am doing I was encouraged that this can still be a season of hope and joy even if not in the most traditional Christmas ways, but by going to the heart of what this season is truly suppose to be about- the hope found in what Jesus did, His first coming, what He promised us with His second coming and how what we are currently faced with by this evil world can actually provide further hope and anticipation of what we are to be rescued from.
It is not the feel good, happy-go-lucky, everything is grand kind of hope or joy. It is the hope and joy that can only come from relying on a promise that there will be an end. A promise that cannot be taken away from us, and one that will not fall short.
I want to encourage us, that when we feel as though there is no reason to celebrate or that it is the furthest thing we desire to do or as though the mere thought of joy is an insult… to come back to the true and only worthy reason to celebrate. Celebration does not need to come in the from of warm-fuzzy feelings, or champagne toasts, or holiday parties… but rather a reflective and thankful heart for who God is, what He has promised us, what He already blessed us with and provided by sending us His Son and sacrificing Him for us. That is the true heart of the season and the true reason that we can still find cause to celebrate today.
He have much to be hopeful for and joyful in even when this world is in shambles, when your heart is beyond broken and the last thing you want to do is smile or laugh let alone put up Christmas lights, fill your home with the sound of Christmas carols and put up a tree. Those things are not what this holiday season is about.
We need to get back to the heart of it. That it is about meeting with our God, finding hope in Him, resting in that hope, and awaiting in eager expectation of what promises of His await us that were illuminated by the birth of Christ this month many decades ago. It is about anticipating His coming and thanking Him for coming the first time. It is about finding Him in our midst and reflecting on the good news brought on Christmas eve for all the people (Luke 2:10). Though evil tears us apart we can know and find hope in that fact that we will be rescued from this pain, justice will be brought, and renewal will happen… and that was what was brought to us on Christmas eve, and truly the reason for the season. This is the hope, this is the gift, this is the reason behind finding joy throughout the holidays… what we can find reason in for being thankful, the promise He already fulfilled in the birth of Christ and the promise He has promised He will fulfill in Christ’s second coming.
On Christmas eve many moons ago we were shown why to have hope and joy during this holiday season. I encourage you to reflect on that, be thankful for that and look ahead with expectant hope for when we will walk into that promise with Christ finally immersed in its full joy and hope as we are provided with no more of this suffering and enter fully into His presence.
Maybe this is all coming at the best time (though there is no best time for matters such as the ones we have been bombarded with this season)…because when we feel most shaken by this world is when we most needed to be reminded of this hope, of this promise and that this is only temporary. The hope that all the wrong and pain of this world He will make right, He will restore, He will renew and there will be no more.
This promise was given to us by the birth of Jesus and shown to us throughout the life of Christ, and it will be fulfilled at His promised second coming.
The Israelites were promised a savor, and it was granted. “the savior they had been hoping for and waiting for had come”. We are promised the same and it will come into fruition.
So during this time of frenzy I ask you to come into the presence of God. During a time where celebration is a foreign term that seems unfamiliar, distant and impossible… to celebrate not this world, not the holiday season itself, and to not celebrate by decorating, buying a tree or having a get together… no, by being still, quite, and in the presence of the one to be celebrated who has given us any reason to celebrate. To celebrate His love, His provision, His promise, His protection, not during our time on this earth but His protection rather from this earth in due time. Bend your knee in his presence whether that is in tears, confusion, sorrow, numbness, unspeakable heartbreak, joy, thankfulness or even anger… and realize He is worth celebration, He is the only reason for any cheer to be found in the holidays… but that celebration does not need to look cheery, and full of holiday festivity.
Find hope in that there will be a time of no more, a time of renewal, and a time of justice. And that we who await His coming in joyful expectation will not be let down, will not be put to shame.
The holidays are about hope in what is to come and finding God’s presence in the now. So even if you see no hope in the now and no joy to be found in the present, look to Him, look to what He has promised and find hope in His future coming that will save us from the now and find peace in His presence. You may not have a lot to be joyful for this season but you do have the truest reason. May we focus on that and may it bring us hope.
As this world crumbles at our feet, stand firm in the unshakeable promised coming kingdom of the Lord, THE king. Do not underestimate the magnitude of this event, and its worthiness of deep celebration.
Imagine the Shepherds on this night years ago, looking towards the long awaited promise of a savior, and then that moment coming. The sheperds didnt even know the character of Christ, just what they had been told, and they had so much hope, so much eager anticipation. We do know the character of Christ, and though we have yet to fully know Joy, we have what we know of Christ to cling to and His promise that He will come again. We have the knowledge that our God loved us so that He came down to be the light to fight of the darkness we chose over Him. Loved us so dearly that He took on that darkness of sin to come out victorious…not for the sake of God but for us, out of pure love for us.
We have hope because He already came once, He will come again, and in knowing what He will do when He does.